Warm Springs has been added to BART's official system map (above), ending the 45-year long era of Fremont being the terminus station.
Just four days before the grand opening of BART's brand-new Warm Springs station, the official system map has been updated to include the station below Fremont.
The modified system map was changed on BART's website on Thursday, March 21, 2017, ending the nearly 45-year long era ever since BART opened on September 11, 1972, in which Fremont has acted as the southbound terminus for Richmond and Daly City line trains.
Previously known, but now included on the map, is the schedule for trains running to Warm Springs/South Fremont station.
The Daly City - Warm Springs line (Green line) will operate to the new station before 6:00 PM every Monday through Friday, whereas the Richmond - Warm Springs line (Orange line) will take over services to the station on weekends and after 6 PM on weekdays. Trains not continuing to Warm Springs will terminate at Fremont station.
The official BART map has been updated on our website as well; click here to visit our transit guide for BART. Also be sure to check out our upcoming videos on Warm Springs station on YouTube. Click here to visit our channel page.
Written by the Bay Area Transit News team
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SFGate has stated their priorities for what BART should fix. Here's our response to each of their points.
The Fleet of the Future already solves many of SFGate's points on what BART's top priorities should be.
In their latest article on BART, SFGate listed their top priorities and issues for the aging transit system to address in the near future. Each of their points are either highly questionable or flawed, however, something we wish to look at closer.
SFGate lists ten points, in order from most-to-least imperative, for BART they wish to see improved/fixed/repaired in the future. It's time to critique each individual one.
10. "Install train time boards by the ticket machines." These electronic screens are already installed at many stations in the BART system, from Pleasant Hill to 19th St/Oakland and many more. While they are not universally adopted for every station as of current, BART plans to roll out real-time departure screens at every station in the near future.
9. "Add more hand-holds and poles." This is an issue BART has never fully dealt with, but with the Fleet of the Future on the near horizon, there will be plenty of hand rails and lower bars to hold onto for shorter people very soon. Adding more handle straps to the current aging fleet would be rather frivolous, as these cars are set to be retired over the next five years.
8. "Weatherproof the system." Rain is a chronic issue for BART, often causing delays due to electrical failures on tracks. That said, very little can be done to improve BART's performance in wet conditions, seeing as the system is powered exclusively by electricity from the high-voltage third rail.
7. "Guarantee that the security cameras are actually working — and real." Widespread outrage occurred after it was revealed in January 2016 that less than a third of BART's security cameras on trains were real. While BART is working to replace all fake cameras on current old trains, the Fleet of the Future will be equipped with fully functional cameras. This issue is set to disperse over the next several years, should the Fleet of the Future roll out as planned.
6. "Grind the rails so that we don’t lose our hearing every time we go through a tunnel." BART already does this. The general public never sees this process occurring, since work is only performed after the system shuts down past midnight to 4 AM, but BART certainly grinds its rails regularly. The reason trains are so loud is due to old age and worn-out ties on the tracks, not because BART doesn't grind rails enough.
5. "Add late-night Friday and Saturday service." White it would be beneficial to a handful of late-night riders, BART uses every second the system is shut down to work on countless projects, including grinding rails, repairing trains, and fixing track. Taking away this time, even if it's only for two days a week, would give BART far fewer hours to work on the system while it's not in use.
4. "Replace or fix the escalators and elevators." BART is already replacing its many old, distasteful elevators in San Francisco stations. While it may seem BART lets its escalators fall into a state of disrepair, a team of workers is constantly surveying which escalators are down in the system and repairing them as quickly as possible. BART has even explained the process by which workers repair escalators in this video.
3. "Make all trains 10 cars during commute hours." On the Pittsburg/Bay Point - SFO/Millbrae line, all trains during peak hours already consist of ten cars. As for the rest of BART's lines, there are simply not enough train cars to support 10-car trains for every line... yet. If the Fleet of the Future roll-out occurs properly over the course of the next five years, BART will be able to run trains at greater frequencies, with more cars.
2. "Or, barring that, add more commuter special trains." Again, there are simply not enough train cars for BART to do this.
1. "More trains. Period." For the third time, it is not possible for BART to add more cars as of current. The Fleet of the Future will add 106 new cars to the BART system over the next several years.
While we understand SFGate's issues regarding BART, they are all intellectually flawed to a certain extent. It is important to understand the limits BART is bound to in terms of progress and working on sustaining the system for generations to come. SFGate does not seem to understand this.
While it is understandable the issues people wish to see BART address, there is a limit as to what the people who ensure the system runs every day can accomplish.
After a three years' delay, BART's Warm Springs station is opening March 25, according to officials.
After a series of delays and setbacks that pushed back the opening of BART's brand-new Warm Springs/South Fremont station nearly three years, BART announced the inaugural day for revenue service to be March 25, 2017.
The announcement was made public on March 10 via a news article on BART’s website and a YouTube video uploaded by BART.
Warm Springs station is part of BART's Phase 1 extension to San Jose, and extends the system 5.4 miles south of existing Fremont station, the current terminal for BART's Orange and Green lines.
The new station is located in Fremont's Warm Springs district near the intersection of South Grimmer Blvd and Warm Springs Blvd.
Initially intended to open in mid-2014, the station was plagued with testing failures and breakdowns that set its opening date back nearly three years.
This was partly due to the extreme polarization between Warm Springs' modernized technology and the rest of BART system's aging infrastructure, which led to several setbacks during the station's lengthy testing process.
The station is just the starting point for BART's master plan to extend the system to San Jose city limits within next year.
Falling ridership and high operative costs put the system in a difficult situation.
It's now been two and a half years since the opening of BART's long-anticipated Oakland Airport Connector. Put into service on November 22, 2014, the 3.2-mile system transports passengers between Coliseum station and Oakland International Airport during a gentle, quiet ride of about eight minutes.
Now, however, it seems the fears some had over the Oakland Airport Connector are turning into a reality.
The Connector was not without its controversy, both in the general public and the BART board itself. Those who supported the Connector before it was built argued that it would bring economic prosperity to Oakland International Airport, and that accessibility to OAK would receive a huge boost. Those who were against the system expressed concern over how much the system was going to cost and whether that price was worth paying for such a small system.
Indeed, the Oakland Airport Connector cost a large amount of cash to build - $484 million - and even forced BART to take out $110 million in bonds just to be able to complete the construction process.
While this was happening, there was even resentment from some members of the BART Board of Directors, including Vice President Robert Raburn.
“The feeling is that while taking BART may be a good deal for solo travelers, for families and groups of people, the ride-shares are more affordable," he said to the San Francisco Chronicle.
He's not wrong; the Oakland Airport Connector costs $6 per adult ticket, a price many argue is too high to be justifiable. In a highly competitive market between public transit, cars and ride-shares such as Uber or Lyft, many are turned off by the Connector's hefty price. In a family of four, expect to pay $24 exclusively for the Connector, as well as the cost of riding BART to the Connector in the first place.
BART spokesman Jim Allison admitted this unfortunate impediment in the Connector's success. “We didn't anticipate Uber and Lyft and the others, and that’s hurting us," he told the SF Chronicle.
This all begs the question: Was it worth building the Oakland Airport Connector? There are a number of factors you can use to try and come up with a definitive answer, but let's look at a few of them.
Operating Costs & Ridership
A major concern critics of the Connector always held to was how much the system was going to cost to keep in service, as well as if enough people would ride the system to sustain that price.
The annual cost to run the Oakland Airport Connector is $61 million. In order for BART to break even on operative costs vs passenger revenue, a minimum of 2,800 daily passengers is required.
For a while, the Connector was exceeding this required number, reaching nearly 3,200 people at one point last year, but more recently ridership has been declining. Now, daily ridership rarely exceeds 2,800, and often dips far below that number.
Adding up how many times each train stops at each station every weekday and dividing that by 2,800 tells you each train would have to pick up an average of just over 15 people, per station, in order for BART to financially break even on the Connector. Simply by riding and observing the Connector, it's quite obvious this doesn't always happen, meaning there are not enough riders per day to sustain the cost of the Oakland Airport Connector.
The statistics show this too; BART has lost around $860,000 in operating costs since the opening of the Connector in 2014.
Based off of all this, it can be agreed upon that from a financial standpoint, the Oakland Airport Connector is certainly not succeeding; believing it to be a "failure" is still debatable, but it's important to keep in mind there's always a chance, no matter how small it may be, that this still-new system will experience a financial revival in the future.
Performance & Reliability
It's very hard to argue against the Connector's outstanding reliability and operative performance. The system has won several innovation awards and is unique when it comes not only to people movers, but in any form of public transit.
The Connector is fully automated and is pulled by a thick cable set on the tracks, making for an incredibly quite, smooth, comfortable ride. The Oakland Airport Connector has an over 99% on-time rating, and since its launch, has been subject to breakdowns only a handful of times.
From a performance viewpoint, the Oakland Airport Connector has kept its promise as being an extremely reliable system ever since it began revenue service. Part of the reason why is how it was constructed by utilizing a cable system capable of keeping the fully automated trains on-time without much difficulty.
Those in favor of the Connector argued the system would greatly improve Oakland International Airport's accessibility and general ease of getting to the airport. Those against said the process by which people would get to the OAK Airport station was not streamlined enough, and that the ease of pedestrian access to and from the station was not as convenient as it should be.
It is, however, difficult to deny how much the Connector had improved access to OAK. The system provides direct access to the rest of the BART system, which opens up the possibilities of where passengers can get to from the airport.
The argument can be made that AirBART provided direct access to BART as well, but passengers taking AirBART needed to physically exit the BART station in order to board the buses. Because the Oakland Airport Connector has direct transfer access to BART at Coliseum, without the need to exit the system, the overall access to OAK has been significantly improved since the Connector's opening.
The issue regarding pedestrian access from the airport to OAK station can have little done to be improved. As of now, passengers have to cross OAK's main thoroughfare, which takes cars to both terminals, to get to and from the station.
It would cost millions of dollars to build a pedestrian-exclusive bridge between the station and the entrance to the airport, and current available space to construct a bridge is very limited.
However, the Oakland Airport Connector's overall accessibility from BART to OAK massively outshines the issue over pedestrian access. In a region with three major airports (SFO, OAK and SJC), accessibility is a major integral part of what makes an airport appealing to passengers. With a modern people mover in operation, OAK's image in the public eye is undoubtedly improved.
One of the main arguments proponents of the Connector stated was that the system would bring economic prosperity to Oakland International Airport, both through passenger numbers and through the appeal of taking a modern people mover to the airport. But has the Connector really done this?
One guarantee is that the average daily ridership on the Connector, while not being financially efficient, is much higher than the daily AirBART bus system ridership, which the Connector replaced upon opening.
The Oakland Airport Connector's ridership is 36% higher than that of the former AirBART system, a significant increase of additional riders taking public transit to OAK. In addition, the $6 the Connector costs is much higher than AirBART's $2 fare, meaning the Connector generates more revenue than AirBART ever could, even if that revenue is not enough for BART to sustain the system financially.
The trouble BART seems to be having with enticing people to ride the system is convincing out-of-towners, as well as locals, that it is better to ride the Connector as opposed to ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft. Many would rather pay more to use these ride-share transit options and get to their destination faster, than pay less for public transit and have their journey last longer.
While the argument can be made that technically more people are using Oakland International Airport than before the Connector entered service, it's difficult to prove the system has significantly improved OAK's passenger numbers.
It is important to keep in mind that the daily ridership of the Connector does not reflect the total number of people using it to go to the airport, as many also use it upon exiting OAK. Thus, it is challenging to know how many people are using the Connector to get to the airport every day, which is why it's so difficult to tell if the system has made a dent in OAK's passenger numbers.
According to the SF Chronicle, around 11%, or about 3,600 people, use ride-share options to get to Oakland International Airport. Considering this figure is much higher than the current number of people using the Connector to get to the airport, this shows other transit options are being more effective in growing OAK's passenger numbers.
Does this mean the Connector does not significantly change or benefit OAK's daily number of passengers? Compared to other transit options, it hasn't. In of itself, it has overall increased the number of people using BART to get to the airport, which could be used to argue that it has helped Oakland International's economic performance.
This goes back to the question asked in the first place: "Was the Connector worth building?" In terms of economic standards and its benefit to Oakland International Airport, the system has not significantly improved the number of passengers using OAK to the point of it being worth its existence.
It's still debatable whether or not the Connector will benefit the airport economically in the future, but for now, the figures show it doesn't represent notable changes to Oakland International Airport in terms of economic standards.
Alternative Transit Solutions
Years before the Connector's completion, debates over what type of new transit solution to Oakland International would be best from a financial, economic and convenience standpoint were constant. We've ended up with what we have today, but could BART have chosen another method of transportation to OAK that would have cost less to build, would be able to succeed financially, and be a convenience to its riders?
The simple answer: It's hard to tell. Generally public transit systems compromise economic stability for less passenger satisfaction, and vice versa; it's quite rare to find a system that excels in both categories. That said, there were many ideas tossed around as alternatives to the Connector, so let's look at one of these.
A solution for service to OAK that gained support in the Oakland community was known as RapidBART. This system would have consisted of several modern, technologically advanced BRT (bus rapid transit) buses transporting people from Coliseum to Oakland International on a very similar route the Connector takes today.
According to Oakland Living, RapidBART would have included transit-signal priority traffic lights, as well as lights pertaining exclusively to RapidBART buses, meaning buses would have the right-of-way on cars their entire route. Oakland Living claims the system would have been just as quick at transporting people to the airport, but it's difficult to prove or disprove this claim.
A major reason RapidBART gained support from thousands was the promise that it would be free for everyone as long as funds from the Oakland Airport Connector were diverted to sustaining RapidBART for years to come. There are two fundamental problems with this thinking.
First, if you're going to use money planned for building the Connector as sustaining a system, you might as well build the more expensive solution that's more convenient for riders. Second, $484 million is not an infinite amount of money, and after several years, it's very likely the operators of RapidBART would be forced to charge fares for riders to sustain the system and pay for operative costs.
However, some of the advantages of RapidBART would have been its ability to stop along its route, better serving the East Oakland community. Assuming RapidBART would eventually cost some amount of money, it would most likely be quite cheaper than the current $6 Connector.
Had RapidBART been built, it's very hard to tell if it would have financially performed better than the Oakland Airport Connector. It would have almost certainly cost less to build, and the operating costs could have been potentially lower, but you end up sacrificing comfort and convenience for the riders by setting up a bus system, rather than rail.
It's difficult to examine if the Oakland Airport Connector's financial woes would've been a non-issue had it never been built in favor of other methods of transport. This, no doubt, is a main issue on why there is so much debate over whether this costly system was worth it.
Combining all these issues together and proceeding to ask the question "Has the Oakland Airport Connector failed?" won't give you an answer. It all depends on which perspective you look at it from.
The system has most certainly improved access to Oakland International Airport, is extremely reliable and performs well. It has also generally improved the image of OAK the general public shares.
But the system's financial trouble and insignificant economic boost to OAK puts it on a strain for BART. The system was costly to build and is even more costly to maintain, and it doesn't appear it's about to begin generating more revenue for BART or OAK anytime soon.
This is why it's hard to call the system a "failure." Different issues at hand with the system are looked at differently, and some have a more positive outcome than others. Calling the entire Connector a failure is not really justified, because there are parts of the system that have genuinely benefited the public, BART, and OAK as a whole.
The system is, however causing a financial headache for BART, and perhaps that is the most important reason many consider the Connector to be failing. It's not wrong to reason like this, but there are many other factors that go into determining the success of a system. This article has examined several of them, and has come up with no definitive answer. It's up to the reader to determine one.